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County Council Chairwoman Rita Days On COVID-19 Spending — And The Page Subpoena

St. Louis County Councilwoman Rita Days speaks during a meeting of the county council on June 1, 2021.
Jason Rosenbaum
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Councilwoman Rita Days speaks during a meeting of the county council on June 1.

St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Rita Days is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where the Bel-Nor Democrat talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about how the council wants to spend the latest round of federal relief money — and whether more COVID-19 related restrictions are on the horizon.

Days represents the 1st District, which takes in a slew of municipalities in central and north St. Louis County. She won a special election in 2019 to succeed Hazel Erby, who recently died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Here’s what Days talked about during the program:

  • The spread of the Delta variant, and whether the council could approve restrictions on businesses. New state legislationgave the county council more power to curb County Executive Sam Page’s ability to use indefinite restrictions to combat COVID-19.
  • Where the county councilwould like to spend roughly $193 million in federal relief money from what’s known as the American Rescue Plan. The council will likely have much more say in where the ARP funds go than it did on funds from the CARES Act.
  • Why the council decided to go forward with subpoenas related to Page’s work as an anesthesiologist. She also talked about what the council is seeking to accomplish, especially since St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell has said he won’t get involved.
  • The legacies of Erby and former state Rep. Betty Thompson, two Black political figures who died recently. Both Erbyand Thompsonplayed major roles in shaping St. Louis County politics.

Days is a Lincoln University graduate who joined the Missouri House in a 1993 special election. That was a period of time when Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly, which gave Days opportunity to pass numerous bills and rise to a leadership position within her caucus.

In 2002, Days became the first Black person ever elected to the state Senate from St. Louis County. She served as a senator until term limits forced her to retire from the legislature in 2010. After working for then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, Days served as Democratic director for the St. Louis County Board of Elections from 2011 to 2015. Before running for the county council in 2019, Days worked for the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which issues tax credits aimed at cultivating housing for low-income people.

Days said she is running for a full four-year term in 2022. The district is heavily Democratic, so if she wins the primary she will be favored to continue serving on the council.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Rita Days on Twitter: @ritadays1

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.